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From the Wire: Shots That Need To Be Retired

Criticwire By Matt Singer | Criticwire May 10, 2013 at 2:31PM

"12. Shots of people dropping objects from the perspective of the object being dropped."
2
"Hoosiers."
"Hoosiers."

The writers of Reverse Shot, which recently celebrated its tenth anniversary as a publication, have assembled a list of "Twenty Shots to Be Henceforth Retired From Film Vocabulary." And, oh, how these cliches need to be struck from the cinematic lexicon. A few of my (least) favorites:

"1. Moving clouds sped up.

12. Shots of people dropping objects from the perspective of the object being dropped.

13. Super close-ups of old people's eyes. Waking from a dream or something. It means the film will be from his/her point of view and will probably flash back because we don't want to watch movies entirely about old people. These moments are meant to instill gravity, because seeing crow's feet in extreme close-up makes use contemplate death. (See: 'The Green Mile,' 'Saving Private Ryan,' 'Titanic')"

Let's petition to get this article added as a rider to Hollywood directors' contracts. You want your $100 million budget? Initial here, here, and here promising never to show clouds moving at super-speed.

In terms of what the list is missing, I would nominate:

21. Medium shot of single person in large crowd, clapping his hands once after an awkward but well-intentioned speech or performance.... and then again... and then again, but a little faster... and then the three other people around him/her start clapping too...

22. Shot of person walking backwards into traffic, lost in conversation with someone on the sidewalk, promising to tell them something important about this one time that OH MY GOD A BUS JUST HIT THEM.

If you're not familiar with Reverse Shot, it's a superb quarterly film journal with terrific contributors like David Ehrlich, Leo Goldsmith, Eric Hynes, Calum Marsh, Adam Nayman, Nick Pinkerton, and many others. In the latest "issue," which celebrates the publication's tenth anniversary, each writer spotlights a different film from the last decade that makes them hopeful for the future of cinema. There's also an essay from site co-founders and editors Michael Koresky and Jeff Reichert about the origins of Reverse Shot and how it quickly evolved from self-published zine to one of the best criticism websites on the Internet. 

Congrats to them on ten impressive years. *Slow clap*.

Read more of "Twenty Shots to Be Henceforth Retired From Film Vocabulary" and "The Paper Chase: On the Origins of Reverse Shot."

This article is related to: From the Wire


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